by Stanley Heller, Middle East Crisis Committee (MECC)
[As the PAR print edition goes to print, Newsweek has picked up this story of the universities’ collusion with the Saudi government. By the time you read this in PAR, we expect more investigation will have been done and publicized on an international scale. Congratulations, Stan Heller, for exposing this local world-wide connection!]
Ever more gruesome details emerge daily of the likely torture-murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi on orders of the highest officials of the Saudi government. The Middle East Crisis Committee (MECC) has for years advised Connecticut institutions with relationships with Saudi Arabia to break ties with the cruel regime. In view of the Khashoggi murder, we call on the University of New Haven, which has helped create a security studies program at the police college of Saudi Arabia and is apparently teaching forensic skills there, to immediately suspend all cooperation with King Fahd Security College. It should publicly explain what it is doing in its secretive program in the kingdom.
We have asked how they can justify doing work with a police college in a country with an absolute monarchy and a justice system known for prosecuting activists calling for democratic rights and full equality for women, one where suspects are tortured. We’ve been met only with silence. We’ve also called on University of New Haven administrators to explain if any of the skills they are teaching in Saudi Arabia are being used by the Saudi military which is engaged in a brutal illegal war in Yemen.
The Middle East Crisis Committee also calls on Owen Fiss and Anthony Kronman, directors of the Abdullah S. Kamel Center for the Study of Islamic Law at Yale Law School, to speak out. This murder of Khashoggi is an outrageous violation of any legal precept and demands condemnation. It would be extremely beneficial if the Kamel Center hosted an emergency public conference of Islamic law scholars to examine the woeful state of the Saudi system of justice in a country that claims to strictly follow Islamic law.
The center was funded by Abdullah Kamel’s son Saleh Kamel. Abdullah Kamel was detained by Prince Mohammed Bin Salman last fall on charges of corruption. Reportedly $4 billion, most of Kamel’s money, has been forfeited without any due process. Forbes magazine, which had estimated Kamel’s fortune at $2.6 billion, has removed him from its list of billionaires.